How to Get Over Your Paralyzing Article Writing Fears

Carol Tice

Anxious freelance writer It’s a long way to go from the spark of a story idea to a finished article that appears in a magazine.

Along the way, many writers get stuck. Fears stop them in their tracks.

The years go by, and they don’t get published. Their dream of seeing their byline in a magazine falls by the wayside.

Writer fears on parade

Among the fears I hear a lot:

“I’m worried my story idea isn’t good enough.”

“I’m not sure which editor to send it to, so I gave up.”

“I’m scared to do interviews! Are there any articles I can write where I won’t have to talk to anyone?”

“I write my draft, but then I’m afraid to send it in.”

“I had an editor ask me to write an article, but then I just froze.”

“I got my draft back and my editor wanted all these changes. Now I’m crushed! And I think my writing must not be any good.”

Here’s the one I saw recently that really tore it for me. One writer posted in the Freelance Writers Den forums:

“I sent this pitch to my first choice magazine three weeks ago.

“When would it be safe to send this to another publication?”

Okay. Let’s stop this, right now.

Is it safe?

If you’ve been living a corporate, day-job kind of life, freelancing can seem scary. Nothing is assured.

And that leaves you alone with your insecurities rattling around in your head, filling up your thoughts.

The first thing to do is to stop thinking this way, and reframe how you think about the things you need to do as a freelancer that scare you.

Here are three ways to attack and overcome these fears.

The worst-case scenario

First, ask yourself: What are you really afraid of, anyway? What’s the worst that could happen, in any of these scenarios above?

In all cases, I’m going to take a flier and guess that your life is not in danger here.

Maybe your pride gets a little dinged. An editor says “no.”

So what? There are a lot of editors in the sea. You move on and try another one, is all.

When you think of it that way…what’s so scary? Nothing. Freelancing is completely safe to try. Just go for it.

Life isn’t safe

The second way to think about freelancing fears is to view them in the right context.

What is really safe in this world? Nothing.

Not your day job. Not your lifespan. Not a thing. Each breath involves risk. And so does freelancing.

So why not dare?

Freelancing favors the bold. It’s about taking risks and seeing what happens, and learning from that and doing better next time.

See it as an experiment. Emotionally detach yourself a bit from it and view it like a scientist. What could happen if I sent that query? Wrote that article? Let’s find out!

Try, measure, improve, repeat. That’s a successful freelancer’s path — and the road out of being mired in fears and not moving forward.

Up your skills

Finally, if you really feel you’re not moving forward because of a knowledge gap, you could learn more about article writing to build your confidence. Might give you the boost over the fear hump that you need.

To answer that last writer’s question, it was “safe” to send that query to another publication all along. Or as safe as freelancing will ever be. Feel that danger, and do it anyway.

That’s the only way to succeed as a freelance writer.

What’s your biggest article-writing fear? Share it — or your own fear-busting tips — in the comments.

 

24 Comments

  1. C. Lyn Walter

    Thank you for this article, I feel so normal now! I am really enjoying your posts.
    C. Lyn

  2. Peggy Carouthers

    I used to be so afraid of writing articles when I was first starting out as a journalist, but I quickly got over it. Having deadlines helped. It’s strange that I’ve been scared to query clients and magazines, though. I think it’s because somewhere in my mind freelancing feels different than journalism, but it really shouldn’t. It seems to just be a case of the newbie jitters. Your life isn’t safe point as well as the worst that can happen are both great, and I think they’ll probably help me get going this week. I’ll be submitting 5 queries no matter what. Thanks!

    • Carol Tice

      Right on, Peggy! That’s the spirit exactly.

      It is so true that those of us who thrived on staff-gig deadlines often struggle to create that discipline as freelancers. Have to find ways to create that same sense of urgency that things. must. get. done.

  3. Kevin Duncan

    Hey Carol,

    “Freelancing favors the bold.” I like that!

    As for fears, “what if it’s not good enough” is the one I see most often. I like to respond, “Well…there’s only one way to find out!” You won’t know if it’s good enough or not if you never submit it. 🙂

    • Carol Tice

      And it’ll never get better if you don’t keep writing. No writer looks back on their work of 5 years ago without cringing. You have to do it a lot to improve…so just get going!

  4. Fabienne Raphaël

    Hey Carol,

    Great article on how all these negative thoughts and all this anxiety before even making a move are energy consuming! While taking action is so much more effective!

    I read once on Seth Godin’s blog: “Fear is not the enemy. Paralysis is the enemy.” It’s a matter of what you decide to do with your fear.

    I think that we will always feel the fear. But we just have to do it anyway.

    Besides, doing it anyway opens so many doors and builds your self-confidence. It puts you ahead of all the other people who froze and are still waiting to do something that scares them.

    • Carol Tice

      Exactly, Fabienne!

  5. Pankaj

    Agreed with your points, nothing is safe so its best idea to take risk and test yourself. After all these testings are going to make your expert and remove all your fears.

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